In 2022, 40% of UK companies suffered from a cyber security breach. This high percentage is just one of the many reasons companies worldwide are looking to improve security compliance. As IT experts and a trusted agency for many, at Creative Networks, we have seen the interest in compliance certifications rise sharply in recent years. 

ISO 27001 (Information Security Management) and Cyber Essentials are two big players. These heavy-weight hitters have been carefully crafted to offer protection and enhanced visibility of cyber security networks to ensure that companies can combat modern digital risks much more successfully.

If you have investigated these awards before, you will know they have some crossovers due to cyber security needs. However, a few key differences will make it easy for you to determine which compliance certificate is best for your business.

Keep reading to learn more.

What is Cyber Essentials?

Launched in 2014 by the UK government, Cyber Essentials is an accreditation awarded to businesses that are fully proficient in cyber security. Supported by the National Cyber Security Centre, the scheme focuses on five core pillars to offer businesses a quick way to start working more safely.

The areas of interest are as follows:

  • Creation of firewalls Designed to protect against incoming and outgoing data, a firewall is essential for any company using digital programmes.
  • User control. Teaching companies about how they can encourage employees and third-party suppliers to operate more wisely when using digital solutions.
  • Secure software. Ensure that internal and external programmes meet the strict compliance standards to protect company data.
  • Malware protection for all users. Providing support against breaches made through software tools such as email networks.
  • Patch management. This protects against any access that may be made via third party programmes, which we know are essential for all business forms.

With prices starting from just £300 + vat, Cyber Essentials is a low-cost but big-impact award in which companies of all sizes can invest. This certificate is also achieved via self-assessment, making it popular for internal teams to choose from. Cyber Essentials is also supported by the follow-on accreditation, Cyber Essentials Plus, which focuses on the outlined core pillars plus external vulnerability testing.

Although Cyber Essentials is not mandatory in the UK, it is widely recognised as a badge of excellence due to its inclusion in many government and private sector contract tendering processes. For this reason, many companies choose to adopt it for both UK and global-based operations.

What is ISO 27001?

ISO 27001 is a globally recognised certificate of excellence related to Information Security Management. Awarded by the well-known ISO standards agency; the award is focused on cyber security being woven into operations. By looking at the people, processes, and technology that a company uses, the standard works to improve company-wide compliance with safeguarding security measures.

ISO certificates are never a legal requirement but a recommendation for all companies to adopt. In fact, it experienced a growth rate of 20% in 2022, showing that important big companies such as Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon think that the standard is. For this reason, many organisations that are on the larger side choose to adopt the standard as it signifies a ‘big player’ when it comes to competition.

What Companies are Cyber Essentials and ISO 27001 aimed at?

What Companies are Cyber Essentials and ISO 27001 aimed at?

Every company should have an established cybersecurity toolkit that is not up for debate.

In this blog, we wanted to help companies choose which accreditation is aimed at them. As such, it is essential to look at the target audiences that both awards are for.

Cyber Essentials is a UK-founded accreditation that is gaining momentum in global markets. Despite this, the lower price tag and ease of obtaining the title signify that it is more suitable for smaller companies. If you are just starting in the cyber security world or looking for a shorter-term accreditation, this is a great option.

This certificate covers all areas of compliance needed to operate safely online and requires continual auditing proving just how powerful it is to have in place. It is also recognised internationally, allowing companies to showcase their security measures when entering new markets.

ISO 27001 is again an award anyone can obtain, but due to its higher price tag and operational links, it is aimed at larger, more established companies. It is also commonly adopted by bigger organisations as it requires internal auditors and external professionals to maintain the complex measures required for longer-term compliance. It is also usually chosen by more established companies as it requires more in-depth processes already in place.

Whichever option you choose, one thing is guaranteed. Your cyber security risk will be greatly minimised.

What are the Main Differences Between ISO 27001 and Cyber Essentials?

Alongside the types of companies that the awards are aimed at, other differences include the following:

Time and Cost

Cyber Essentials: This award can be achieved in a few months, depending on the world that is needed to improve current processes. Once a company is ready to submit its application via signed self-assessment, the decision takes a maximum of a week.

Prices also start from £300+vat, making this the much more affordable option. Successful awards last one year, and then the process must be repeated.

ISO 27001: This is much more in-depth and requires multiple audits before passing is possible so this process can take between six to twelve months. The larger the company, the more time it will take, as this accreditation looks at each department and personnel to ensure that processes protect data within a digital market.

The depth of coverage is also represented in the price, with the award costing between £6250 to £33,750, depending on company size. Successful certificates then last for three years as long as the ongoing audits are passed.

Areas Covered

Cyber Essentials: Cyber Essentials is focused on the day-to-day use of programmes and the security features that enrich their safety. As human error is responsible for 82% of data breaches, the award focuses on the measures that can be implemented to reduce the associated risk.

ISO 27001: The higher price tag and complexity of ISO 27001 are represented by the more detailed approach to security processes. Not only does this certificate look at all the elements included with Cyber Essentials, but it also applies them to different departments to test the processes’ robustness.

Reason for Achieving

Cyber Essentials: The main reason that we find companies looking to achieve Cyber Essentials is to be able to apply for UK tenders. As the requested compliance certification, the award means companies can work with private and public companies.

This is also commonly implemented to make quick fixes to a business’s cyber security, as it can be achieved in a matter of weeks.

ISO 27001: ISO 27001 is often responsible for elevating the performance of larger companies meaning that the benefits exceed just cyber security safety. Working on the associated processes and team structures improves quality management across an entire company, which is needed for more established brands looking to scale.  

Can I Have Both ISO 27001 and Cyber Essentials Certifications?

Can I Have Both ISO 27001 and Cyber Essentials Certifications?

You can achieve both accreditations simultaneously, but they are more practical to focus on separately.

Adopting Cyber Essentials is a great way to put the foundations for cyber safety into place for any business. If a company wants to expand operations or invest in more targeted support, ISO 27001 is a great option.

Both require dedication and ongoing support, so we only recommend one certification at any time.

How Can Creative Networks Help My Business?

Ready to get your business certified?

We offer both Cyber Essentials and ISO 27001 services that help companies put the processes in place for passing the awards.

To find out more, get in touch with us today.

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